Leaked Letter: Utah Teachers’ Evaluations (Pay) Will Depend On Common Core Test Scores in 2015   7 comments

An email sent to schools by the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) this week was forwarded to me.

It’s gross evidence of a gross circumstance.   The USOE decided that teacher evaluations (read: salaries) will be directly tied to Common Core/SAGE student results starting at the latest next fall (2015-2016 school year).

If teachers didn’t “teach to the Common Core test” before, they will now.

Their  value as a teacher is, by USOE policy, to be determined by SGP –Student Growth Percentile, meaning: the amount of Common Core -based “improvement” that students showed on their Common Core SAGE tests.

It’s a heavy, disrespectful blow to teachers.

I have learned of some teachers who outwardly nod their heads “yes” to administrations and boards but in fact ignore the Common Core standards, continuing to teach the children in their better way, in the same way they always had, prior to Common Core.

How will independent minded teachers survive this new blow?

I don’t know.

I want to remind everyone that many times the USOE has proclaimed that teachers and schools may teach in the manner that in the local, professional judgment, the schools and teachers deem best.  They say Common Core and its tests do not micromanage teachers.

How untrue that claim has been.

Actions speak louder than words.  The state-level threat of teachers losing pay or status, if a particular teacher’s students don’t speed along the Common Core/SAGE test chain, is an almost insurmountable, powerful micromanagement of Utah’s teachers by its government.

Why did Utah allow the USOE to evolve this much power over us?   The USOE, so monstrously staffed, so stuffed full of bureaucrats, consumes many of our precious education dollars but runs un-accountably –to anyone.  And the USOE has zero authority under the Utah Constitution!

Only the State School Board holds constitutional authority of Utah’s education, checked and balanced by the legislature which hold the power of the purse.   The USOE is a deformed, runaway growth, much bigger and heavier than its stem.  Think about it: corrupt though the state board’s election system has been, still, the electing of State Board members has been at least theoretically representative; taxpayers can vote board members out of office.

Not so for the USOE and it’s leadership and staff.  Taxpayers and teachers and parents have zero say in who gets to run our educational show at the USOE level.  We can’t un-elect the writers of that letter, nor can we vote out the vast number of fat-salaried appointees who boss around the teachers, principals and students of this state.

Just as the federal U.S. Department of Education has no Constitutional validity, neither does the USOE have any state-constitutional validity.

I wish school administrators, school boards, the legislature and especially the state board would respond to the USOE with a little spit and vinegar– in defense of teachers and in non-acknowledgement of the assumed authority of the USOE and its policies, schmollisees.

Here’s that letter.

 

======================================

 

Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2014

From: “Estrada, Christelle” <Christelle.Estrada@schools.utah.gov>

To: “ALL “

Subject: [Secondary ELA] Clarification – SAGE and SGPs

Colleagues:  I am forwarding this clarification from both the Assessment and the Educator Effectiveness departments at USOE so that you can disseminate it to your fellow teachers.

 

 

Dear LEAs,

 

This E-mail is to clarify possible misunderstandings and up-to-date information in regards to SAGE and Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs), and SLOs. The SAGE results for the 2013-14 school year that were released to the public on October 27, 2014 are valid and reliable assessment results.  The results create a new baseline for student achievement.   Educators and parents should seriously review these results and use the results with all of the other educational information and data to support students and assist them in improving their academic achievement.

 

We would like to clarify the relationship of SAGE results to Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs) and to Educator Evaluation in general. The SAGE results you have recently received may be used in all of the ways you have typically used test results to make instructional decisions, inform the school improvement process,  inform professional development, and evaluate programs; however, the 2013-14 SGPs are not calculated for the purposes of educator evaluation, nor to identify schools for focus and priority status under the ESEA waiver.

 

Business rules for calculating SGPs for educator evaluations are currently being developed by the USOE Educator Effectiveness section in cooperation with the USOE Assessment section. District representatives including Superintendents, HR Directors, Curriculum Directors, Educator Evaluation Liaisons and other stakeholders will have an opportunity to give input to these business rules prior to their implementation in June of 2015. These business rules will be used to generate teacher-level SGPs that may be used for calculation of a portion of the  educator evaluation as early as August 2015, although their use will not be required until the 2015-2016 school year.

 

Meanwhile, districts should continue to provide professional development and continue to build rater reliability in relation to teacher and leader observations. They should continue to implement their SLO development plans and make choices about how stakeholder input will be gathered and calculated. The Educator Effectiveness team continues to recommend that teachers of both tested and non-tested subjects learn how to develop and use SLOs to provide additional measurement information about student growth.  SGPs will be available for calculating student growth for the 2014-15 school year (they are also available this year), and they will be available to apply to educator evaluation in 2015-16.

 

If you have additional questions about these topics, please continue to contact any of the following for additional clarification as needed: Linda Alder atlinda.alder@schools.utah.gov<mailto:linda.alder@schools.utah.gov> or 801-538-7923;  Kerrie Naylor at kerrie.naylor@schools.utah.gov<mailto:kerrie.naylor@schools.utah.gov>  or 801-538-7950;   Jo Ellen Shaeffer, joellen.shaeffer@schools.utah.gov<mailto:joellen.shaeffer@schools.utah.gov> or 801-538-7811.

 

Please note Utah has a very broad public records law.  Most written communication to or from our state employees regarding state business are public records available to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.

 

 —————————————————————————————————-

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Video: NJ Symposium to Stop Common Core: Drs. Stotsky, Tienken, Pesta, Williams, Borelli and Borelli   3 comments

In September, Concerned Citizens of Southern New Jersey  held a symposium entitled “No More Common Core,” featuring:

  • Dr. Sandra Stotsky, emeritus professor and member of the original Common Core validation committee
  • Dr. Christopher Tienken, professor at Seton Hall University
  • Dr. Duke Pesta of Freedom Project Education
  • Dr. Tom Borelli, a molecular biologist
  • Deneen Borelli of FreedomWorks
  • Dr. Vern Williams of MathReasoning

The symposium was filmed and is posted here in three segments.

One of the event organizers, Janice Lenox, wrote an op-ed in the Cape May County Herald that succinctly explains why this symposium was so needed.

After a tremendous amount of grassroots labor, the Assembly bill against Common Core was read and voted on.  Lenox wrote:

“We were there for the vote and absolutely ecstatic when the vote 72-2 in our favor was called. Now, on to the Senate…  the Senate president passed over the bill without posting for a vote. We were told that the governor had a meeting with the Senate president and the Teachers Union president and cut a deal. “Regulation, not Legislation” –that’s what the governor wanted. He issued an executive order… He was to assemble a Study Commission to examine the PARCC testing and alleviate the teachers’ assessments for a year… and look at the Common Core…  That was July 19 of this year… As of this date, Nov. 1, no Commission of any kind has been named and no information has been forthcoming…  We urge Senator Steven Sweeney to do the people’s business and post Senate bill S2154 to the floor for a vote and let the peoples’ voices be heard….  Let teachers teach and parents parent.”

If the good people of New Jersey will simply watch, learn, and share these vital messages from the symposium speakers, and then firmly let Senator Sweeney and their other elected representatives exactly how important this is, maybe this mountain will move move.

Go, New Jersey!

 

Symposium Part One:

 

Symposium Part Two:

 

Symposium Part Three:

Video: Professor Christopher Tienken in Connecticut   1 comment

Connecticut Against Common Core hosted Seton Hall University professor Dr. Christopher Tienken last month.   Start at minute 4:22 for Dr. Tienken’s speech.

Dr. Tienken talks about intended and unintended consequences of any treatment –including educational “treatment,” to children.  He explains how important it is to have evidence for the need and the effectiveness of Common Core, which he refers to as “the latest round of standardization.”  He defines himself not as others do, as “anti-Common Core” but more  “pro-evidence”.  He assesses education reforms through the lens of evidence, sourcing all of his statements and writings against Common Core, which you may read at his website and in the many academic journals in which he has been published.

He challenges the assumptions that underlie advocacy for Common Core.

For example: What if the results of the international test are not meaningful?  –We might not be lagging at all in international competitiveness.  None of the international tests can tell you the quality of a national education system nor can they predict the economic future.  That’s not just an opinion; that’s his job, he says –reading 400 page technical manuals on international testing. Only about 6,000 kids in a country take these tests, and they may not be at all representative of the rest of the kids in that country.  In China and Singapore, for example, most students aren’t in high school when the tests are administered.  Only the wealthiest kids take these tests, not second language learners and others.  These tests, he says, are sensitive to factors outside of school.  PISA and TIMMS tests, for example, measure skills akin to the 19th century.  Innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, skills that drive economies today, are not even measured.

Why do Americans think that one narrow test (not evidence based) will be the ultimate predictor of student and national economic achievement?

Dr. Tienken later breaks out the charts to show how well the United States is actually doing, showing the misguidedness of Common Core’s foundational claims.

Watch the video to hear the rest.  It’s great.

 

Good News About American Education… Pass It On!   8 comments

book and kite

 

“…The US ranks 1st in the world in Nobel Prizes in the sciences and medicine. 60% of all Nobel Laureates come from US public schools.  The US ranks 1st in the world in the number of utility patents and the number of scientific papers produced.

The US ranks 2nd in the world on the Global Creativity Index, 3rd on the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index, and 5th on the Global Innovation Index.

We rank in the top 10 in the industrialized world for the percentage of high school graduates and the percentage of our population with BA degrees.

We produce the highest percentage of engineers who are qualified to work in multi-national corporations, we produce the greatest number of engineering doctorates, over 90% of which go to US born students, and the list of the accomplishments goes on.

In short, the arguments that all these standardizing reforms are both necessary and will increase competitiveness and secure a vibrant macro-economic future rest on pillars of sand.”  -Dr. Christopher Tienken, Seton Hall University

That quote, from a speech and article Dr. Christopher Tienken posted recently, explains that negative myths about the terrible quality of American education abound, in part, so that corporations can make money and power grabbers can grab power.  We must not believe or act on the negative myths.

Boards of education are the last defense against this corporatism, social Darwinism and neoliberalism that is combining to take control over American education, says Tienken.   He encourages boards to push back.  (Why don’t locals do their own fact checking, and then echo Dr. Tienken, rather than Coleman, Barber or the USOE?)  Here are some facts you can share from Dr. Tienken as you explain why you are opting out and pushing back:

“To proclaim that one test and one set of curriculum standards, the Common Core, can provide meaningful data about whether a child is college and career ready, that is, ready to attend one of the over 4,400 colleges and universities in the US or pursue one of the tens of thousands of careers that exist or those that don’t but will by the time this year’s preschool class, the class or 2029 or 2030 graduates high school, is educationally bankrupt. No test, not the ACT nor SAT, or any other test can tell you that. In fact, high school GPA is a better predictor of first year college success and college completion than either the SAT or ACT. Maybe that is why there are now almost 1,000 colleges and universities that don’t require either test or make it optional.”

Moreover, he writes:  “You cannot standardize creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. What is being cut from schools now, because of this misguided adherence to standardization, are the subjects and experiences that children will really need to acquire the skills necessary to compete in a global economy in 2030.”

I have no personal ill will against the Common Core pushers; I’d bake them cookies if they were my neighbors and help carpool their kids.  But the fact is, nice people or not, that they are all wrong for allowing Common Core and Common Data Standards to harm our students’ academics, privacy, creativity and autonomy.  The list of wrong thinkers is long.

Governor Herbert is wrong.  His Prosperity 2020 and State Longitudinal Database System is wrong.  His friends in the Chamber of Commerce are wrong.  His education advisor is wrong.  His State Office of Education is wrong.  His NGA Governors’ private club is wrong.  Utah companies such as Education First and the School Improvment Network are wrong.  SAGE/AIR testing and its prime pusher, Asst. Supt. Judy Park, are wrong.  Local school boards, principals, charter school boards and anyone who parrots what others say, are wrong.  No matter how many people get on board with Common Core, it’s still wrong.

Dr. Tienken (and countless others) have assessed this situation correctly.

 

Word of mouth is always better than big, fat glossy marketing campaigns.  Help the truth to surface.  Please read Tienken’s  article and pass it on to your local boards, state board, principals, legislators, local chambers of commerce, and the Governor’s office.

Video: New York Teachers Reject Common Core   1 comment

 

Why don’t Utah teachers speak out en masse, as New York teachers?

Video: Uncommon Conformity   2 comments

I like this video.  Thanks, Sam Martin.

From Ohio With Love – Music Video   Leave a comment

This music video, written by Ohio’s “Anti Common Core Club,” rewritten to the tune of Pink Floyd’s Brick in the Wall, is sure to be a hit nationwide.  Thanks, Ohio.

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